The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission
by Jim Bell
Dutton, 2015 (($27.95))

The twin Voyager space probes, launched by NASA in 1977, have traveled farther into the cosmos than any other human-made machine. Now about 19.5 billion kilometers from home, Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft to exit the solar system in 2013. Voyager 2 should follow this year. Their mission was not just to visit outer planets that people had never seen up close but to be emissaries to the universe for Earth's citizens. Both craft carried “golden records” loaded with pictures and sounds—from whale songs to Bach to Chuck Berry—to represent our planet to any extraterrestrial beings who might encounter them. Planetary scientist Bell, who worked on the mission from the time he was an undergraduate, chronicles the two probes' journeys, their revelations about our solar system, and the many people who have dedicated their careers to the mission.

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For more recommendations and an interview with author Jim Bell, go to ScientificAmerican.com/feb2015/recommended